Angola + 7 more

IRIN-SA Weekly Round-up 8 covering the period 19-25 Feb 2000

Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Integrated Regional Information Network for Southern Africa
Tel: +27 11 880 4633
Fax: +27 11 880 1421

Southern Africa was battered by torrential rains and high winds this week as cyclone Eline moved across Mozambique and into Botswana, Zimbabwe and southern Zambia, causing extensive damage and leaving hundreds of thousands of people displaced.

Mozambique launched an international appeal to cope with extensive flooding, Zimbabwe declared a state of emergency and will launch its own appeal next week, while officials in Botswana's National Disaster Management Authority told IRIN on Friday that care for the displaced was being hampered by a shortage of tents throughout the effected region.

FLOODS-MOZAMBIQUE: Appeal for international help

The Mozambican government and UN agencies launched a joint international appeal on Wednesday for US $65 million to repair damaged infrastructure and carry out humanitarian operations following two weeks of floods that have left at least 70 people dead and 300,000 in urgent need of assistance.

The government said several main roads, including connections with neighbouring South Africa and Swaziland were severely affected. "The national road that connects the capital, Maputo, with the rest of the country has been cut at several places, and embankments and bridges have been washed away," a government statement said.

The country's railway and electricity networks, added the appeal, have also been devastated and need urgent repairs. The Ressano Garcia line to South Africa, the Goba line that goes through Swaziland to South Africa, and the Limpopo line to Zimbabwe have all been damaged.

For a detailed report see:

FLOODS-MOZAMBIQUE: Floods threat to food security

More than 70,000 hectares of land and a substantial amount of livestock have been destroyed in the floods that have devastated Mozambique over the last two weeks, humanitarian agencies told IRIN on Wednesday. The risk of an outbreak of water-borne diseases such as cholera and malaria as well as meningitis has also increased.

For detailed reports see:

FLOODS-ZIMBABWE: State of emergency declared

Zimbabwe declared a state of emergency on Thursday as torrential rains and flooding affected an estimated 250,000 people in four of the country's eight provinces this week.

Sibusisiwe Ndhlovu, the deputy director of Zimbabwe's Civil Protection Unit told IRIN on Friday the effects were "the worst we have seen" and the damage to infrastructure in the south and east of the country could "run into billions" of Zimbabwe dollars. She said Zimbabwe was preparing an international appeal over the disaster.

Ndhlovu said the main problem at the moment was accessibility to people marooned by flood waters. "We are trying to rescue and provide shelter to a number of communities. There is a problem of foodstuffs, logistics, and telephones are down." The official 'Herald' newspaper reported on Friday that at least 12 people have died.

For a detailed report see:

FLOODS-SOUTH AFRICA: Northern Province battered

At least 50 people have been killed and more than 80,000 left homeless in South Africa's Northern Province since heavy rains started more than two weeks ago, government officials told IRIN on Friday.

Sam Hlungwane, of the Local Government and Housing department, said many roads in the province's northern region have been washed away while power lines and bridges have collapsed. "All the rivers have been flooded after the dams started overflowing," Hlungwane told IRIN. He added that five regions in the province were affected by the floods. "The rains were heavier this week following the Eline cyclone that cut off whole communities in the Bushbuckridge area, situated east of the province on the way to Mozambique."

For a detailed report see:

FLOODS-BOTSWANA: North and northeast affected

President Festus Mogae put Botswana on full alert as Eline, downgraded to a tropical depression, approached the country still struggling to come to grips with last week's heavy rains. The National Disaster Management Authority told IRIN on Friday the storms hit the north and northeast of the country but their full effect were felt in Zimbabwe and southern Zambia.

FLOODS-SOUTHERN AFRICA: New cyclone in Indian Ocean

More rain is expected over much of Southern Africa in the next few days, but was likely to taper off towards the end of next week, a researcher from the Climatology Research Group at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg told IRIN on Friday.

She said that a new cyclone, Felicia, was currently in the Indian Ocean around Madagascar and Mauritius, but might not hit the Mozambican coast as cyclone Eline did this week with devastating results. If Felicia does move towards Mozambique, it was "likely to weaken down quite a bit, not resulting in severe rain in southern Africa".

The researcher said that contrary to the current perception the region is experiencing unusually heavy rainfall, these are "pretty much normal weather patterns for this time of year". The difference, she said, was the "sequencing", with storm fronts following one after the other resulting in "extreme rainfall" over large parts of the region. She added that, according to the research group, the recent torrential rains "had nothing to do with changing global weather patterns".

ZIMBABWE: IRIN Focus on legislative elections

Reformers within Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF want President Robert Mugabe and the current leadership to stand down to allow for the party's "rejuvenation" ahead of presidential elections in 2002, political analysts told IRIN this week.

The debate within ZANU-PF following its dramatic referendum defeat over its draft constitution earlier this month has focused on the perceived liability of the leadership, insiders said. There has reportedly been calls from within the party for Mugabe, 76, to set a date for his retirement, but he has so far refused to announce explicit plans or to name a successor.

For a detailed report see:

ZIMBABWE: Fuel crisis continues

Zimbabwe's fuel crisis is set to worsen over the next five days following the failure of an oil vessel to dock at the Mozambican port of Beira due to high sea levels after heavy rains, a Mobil spokeswoman in Zimbabwe told IRIN on Wednesday.

Margaret Magadza of Mobil said the vessel, registered with British Petroleum (BP-South Africa) and carrying fuel supplies for Zimbabwe, had not been able to dock since Sunday. "The fuel situation for the next five days is going to be very critical for Zimbabwe," Magadza told IRIN, adding that the oil industry is working with gravely reduced stocks. Magadza added that the last time the country received a sizeable amount of fuel was about two weeks ago. "Deliveries to users will continue to be erratic and there will be frequent stock-outs," she said.

ZIMBABWE: Economic rescue package

Details of South Africa's pledge two weeks ago to bail out Zimbabwe's struggling economy began to unfold this week. South African newspapers reported over the weekend that Zimbabwe would issue a bond in which South Africa would invest US $133 million to stave off fuel and power shortages that have hit Zimbabwe since December.

The parastatal oil-from-coal company, SASOL, is expected to sign an exclusive contract to supply fuel to Zimbabwe this week, news reports said.

For a detailed report see:

ZIMBABWE: Court defeat for Mugabe

The Zimbabwean Supreme Court has cleared the way for President Robert Mugabe's office to be sued in an attempt to force it to make public the results of an inquiry into the deaths of government opponents in the 1980's, news reports said on Tuesday.

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and the Legal Resource foundation want the court to order Mugabe's office to release the reports of two commissions of inquiry into events in Matabeleland in western Zimbabwe, where it is estimated that up to 20,000 people were killed allegedly by government troops.

ANGOLA-ZAMBIA: Fresh fighting along the border

Clashes have been reported around the UNITA rebel base of Rivungo in southeastern Angola resulting in fresh refugee arrivals into the Zambian border town of Shangombo, UNHCR told IRIN on Thursday. "Three days ago fighting erupted in Rivungo, but as of Monday night only 40 or 50 people had crossed into Shangombo," UNHCR spokesman Dominik Bartsch said.

However, humanitarian sources said there are contingency plans to cope with an influx of a further 15,000 refugees into Zambia's Western Province as a result of Angolan military operations across the border. Bartsch said that UNHCR was "on alert" over a possible influx of refugees from around the UNITA-held area of Cazombo, further north. He said they could flee south into Zambia's Chavuma district or east into Zambezi.

For a detailed report see:

ANGOLA: Humanitarian update

Ronald Sibanda, the new representative of the UN's World Food Programme (WFP) in Luanda told IRIN this week that WFP faced a number of challenges in its efforts to deliver food aid to beneficiaries.

Sibanda said that these challenges included security, access to people and resources. "One of the main challenges confronting us is the need to review our delivery strategy. As you know we deliver most of our food by air. This is very expensive and if we can find a way to reduce delivery costs it would mean more money for buying food," Sibanda said.

For a detailed report see:

NAMIBIA: Border unrest affects immunization

Insecurity along Namibia's northern border with Angola has affected polio immunization efforts and sparked fears about a renewed polio outbreak in the country, 'The Namibian' said on Thursday.

Director of Primary Health Care, Maggy Nghatanga said: "The fighting will contribute negatively to the immunization programme. We visited Rundu three weeks ago and our health workers are really frightened to go into remote areas for the immunization of the children."

She said that long established health services between Divundu and Kongolo in the north had been closed because of the insecurity in the region. Nghatanga said that at present Namibia was polio free and that Angolan children entering the country were immunised before being sent to the Osire refugee camp. She said that last year a 65 percent immunization figure was recorded, but "insecurity in the northeast would worsen these figures."

NAMIBIA: Citizens want more protection

Citizens of Gciriku in eastern Kavango have demanded that the Namibian Government restore security in their area, news reports said on Thursday. About 500 people on Wednesday marched to the Gciriku tribal office at Ndiyona, 100 km east of Rundu in northern Namibia, calling for urgent action to end cross-border raids by suspected UNITA rebels. According to 'The Namibian' the Gciriku area, which stretches for 90 km along the Kavango river, has borne the brunt of the attacks over the past three months.

NAMIBIA: Accused Caprivi secessionist dies

Alleged Caprivi secessionist Steven Mamili died in a Windhoek hospital at the weekend after apparently collapsing at Grootfontein prison where he had been in detention since August last year, an official of the Namibian Society for Human Rights (NSHR) confirmed to IRIN on Thursday.

Mamili, 41, a former talk show host for the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation, was among the first group of about 100 political refugees from the northeastern Caprivi Strip who crossed into Botswana at the end of 1998. They claimed they feared for their lives because of their association with the secessionist movement led by Mishake Muyongo and Chief Boniface Mamili.

For a detailed report see:

MADAGASCAR: MSF withdraws from Toliara Province

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said this week that it was withdrawing its teams from the Toliara Province in Madagascar. MSF said in a statement that the withdrawal was in response to the refusal by the authorities to allow MSF access to treat cholera victims. MSF said that a cholera epidemic has been devastating Madagascar for more than 10 months, and that it was "progressing at an alarming rate throughout the entire country."

"Any and all prevention and treatment measures undertaken by the authorities have up to this point been unsuccessful in averting the aggravation and spreading of this disease," Thierry Durand, Operations Director at MSF-Switzerland said.

According to MSF the number of cholera cases have surpassed 15,500 with five out of the six provinces being affected. It said that more than 1,000 people had died, more than a third of these in the past month.

Johannesburg, 25 February 14:00 GMT


IRIN-SA - Tel: +27-11 880 4633
Fax: +27-11 880 1421

[This item is delivered in the English service of the UN's IRIN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations. For further information, free subscriptions, or to change your keywords, contact e-mail: or Web: . If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post this item, please retain this credit and disclaimer.]

Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2000